Street League Skateboarding –SLS-, was founded by Rob Dyrdek in 2010, in the league’s words they were created to “foster growth, popularity and acceptance of street skateboarding worldwide”. But not every skater agreed that the only professional league in the world is good for the skateboarding community.
Skateboarding Becoming Part of the Mainstream
Since the league has a partnership with the X Games it has become the biggest skateboarding tour, giving more than 1 million dollars in prizes across U.S. and Europe. The league has a purpose that is clear for everyone, turning young skaters into superstars. Doing that with a type of Michael Jordan publicity, being advertised by Nike and owning an amazing crib that could be part of an MTV show. Nyjah Huston and Shane O´neill are examples of this, being some of the richest street skateboarders in the world with luxury stuff as fancy cars and mansions.
The rebel mind behind the subculture of street skating might get lost in the SLS events where they focus on presenting a regular sport event, forgetting some of the roots of true skateboarding. The league is trying to create interest for a mainstream audience that consumes almost everything on cable television. This could be seen as a corporation "wanna be", focused more on profits than in preserving the core of skateboarding culture. What may be of concern is that for bad or for good, SLS will define skateboarding for years to come. The purists of skateboarding will agree that the format of SLS competitions don’t allow spontaneity, which is a key factor when it comes to street skateboarding.
Street League Skateboarding More than a Contest
On the other side of the coin there are some skaters that think the SLS is actually good for skating growth and popularization. These skaters are usually the ones that now participate in the league and support what it is doing for skateboarding as a sport, some of them may also say that with maturity they see skateboarding from a more serious perspective. And if the league can make the young ones get interested in skating then they will support it. Maybe we are in no position to judge them, but if you can live well by doing what you like (skating) then the league doesn’t seem as such a bad idea after all.
Despite the two points of view regarding the SLS events, we can agreed that the League has standarized skateboarding. Skaters know which tricks are the most valuable for judges and because the score is the only important thing they prefer to practice the same tricks over and over again. The league may work as a career opportunity for many skaters, but is important to don’t forget where it all started, in the actual streets.